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Since working from home, I have used the basic iPad more than I ever thought I would use a tablet.
The iPad has been handy when working away from the desk, playing games or watching videos with my son, and more.
While I recommend an iPad with more storage, even the $329 model can do everything I've done and then some.
10.2-inch iPad (2019) (small)
Apple has been trying to get its customers to think of the iPad as the next evolution of the mobile computer for a long time now. Admittedly, being a computing geek at heart, I have resisted that narrative pretty strongly.
However, being a father to a 3-year-old (and receiving the basic, $329 iPad from my wife as a 2020 Father's Day gift), has drastically changed my outlook on the iPad as an incredibly versatile device - even for getting real work done in a pinch.
Here's a look at all the ways even the most affordable iPad has been a major upgrade in my life, and could be for you, too.
First off, to lay some groundwork, this is the $329 iPad model with 32GB of storage. However, the Smart Keyboard cover attachment is not included, and costs an additional $159.
Frankly, the Smart Keyboard or a similar product is all but essential for more than just typing on iPad. It's also a convenient stand for watching movies or playing games.
Not only is the keyboard handy for typing out emails or editing articles (most content management systems support iPad in the Safari browser), but for typing super-fast text messages to friends and family using Apple devices.
iPad supports nearly every facet of my working day: Google Workspace apps for editing drafts as well as tracking articles and metrics; Trello for additional project tracking; Slack for daily instant communication, and more.
However, where the basic iPad falls short is for video meetings. The portrait orientation of the FaceTime camera isn't conducive to how I use the iPad almost constantly: in a horizontal landscape orientation for typing. I'd say my coworkers have learned to deal during those afternoon meetings.
This is news to no one with children, but when I'm not working the iPad is an incredible, safe distraction device if you need just a few minutes to yourself or to get a chore done.
Parental controls vary between the specific video and game apps, but you can easily lock down in-app purchases and app downloads before giving your kid unfettered access to your debit card.
Speaking of which, I even use the iPad to do online banking and bill payments. Because of the locked-down nature of Apple's software in that apps have very little communication with other apps, if at all in some cases, I feel safer doing banking on this device than just any old laptop.
Of course, the iPad's entertainment capabilities get even better when you share them with your kids. From sharing the screen to watch a movie to playing same-screen multiplayer games, there's a ton to do to get involved in your kid's interests.
You could even load the iPad up with the latest age-appropriate educational apps to squeeze some learning in - especially if your child isn't currently in daycare or early schooling for health concerns.
The iPad comes in handy for more personal, esoteric reasons as well, such as serving as my comic book reader whenever I want to read up on the comic history informing my favorite Marvel shows and movies.
And finally, the iPad has been incredibly helpful in one of my biggest passions: running games of Dungeons & Dragons for my friends from behind the screen. Not that I'm doing much at all of this these days, but the iPad is more than ready to be my grimoire of tales and tricks once we're all able to get together again safely.
10.2-inch iPad (2019) (button)